By Tom Krasniqi (Twitter: @TKras)
After nearly two weeks of training camp in hot summer sun of Tampa, the players are beat up. They’re tired. Their bodies are aching. “This is the hardest working camp as a team that I’ve been through,” said left tackle Donald Penn. “Everyone is working hard on both sides of the ball.”
Head coach Greg Schiano said Tuesday was without a doubt, the hottest day in camp so far. With temperatures in the 90s, the actual heat index was over 100 degrees. “It was very hot,” says rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence as sweat was pouring out of his body after practice. Spence says the training staff does a great job of hydrating players throughout practice.
The good news for the players is that training camp is starting to wind down and that means preseason game action is almost upon us. On Thursday, the Bucs open their preseason schedule at home against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at Raymond James Stadium.
Schiano says he has plan as to how much the starters will play. “We have everything mapped out,” Schiano said after Tuesday’s practice. “We have a plan for Thursday night. We’re going to play this many plays, that many plays.” Schiano says each player has their own specific program as to how many reps they’ll get on Thursday night. For instance, safety Mark Barron is adjusting to being the dime defensive back in the box so he may get a couple of more snaps than others.
Don’t expect to see a whole lot of Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson or Gerald McCoy. With the rash of injuries taking place around the league, the Bucs will not put their star players at risk. Thursday’s game will provide an opportunity for those fringe players who are trying to make the roster. “I want to see how some of the 2nd and 3rd and 4th team guys compete. How do they compete when the lights come on….Can they do what they’ve been doing out there [at training camp}? Can they do it in the stadium against another team? Those are the things that are important. And can they do it for a sustained period of time…can they stay focused for a 3-hour football game and stay in the game and not have a mental lapse,” said Schiano.
Thursday’s game is a lot more important for the likes of Rashaan Melvin, Steven Means and Chris Owusu. Players like them who have flashed during camp and are fighting for roster spots. The coaching staff wants to see it translate over to game action. Thursday night will be their opportunity to showcase their talents.
News & Notes:
- DE Aaron Morgan has been out of practice the last few days with a strained neck. No timetable on his return. DE Adrian Clayborn (groin) also sat out practice.
- With Clayborn out, DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim has been getting 1st team reps.
- Believe it or now, there is competition at the kicker position. Lawrence Tynes has been bothered by an ingrown toenail and is not a lock to make the team. Derek Dimke has impressed with his leg and accuracy. That will be an interesting battle to watch during the preseason.
- Schiano says rookie QB Mike Glennon will see plenty of playing time in the preseason: “Definitely, Mike needs to play a lot…that’s for sure. Just to get his feet wet.”
- According to Schiano, QB Josh Freeman will see around 8 to 10 plays on Thursday night.
- Speaking of the quarterbacks, they didn’t have a great day on Tuesday. Freeman missed a few different open receivers and was intercepted by CB Leonard Johnson. Freeman was almost picked by CB Rashaan Melvin in the 2-minute drill. Glennon held onto the ball too long and was ‘sacked’ by Keith Tandy on a safety blitz in the 2-minute situation.
- Just how strong is rookie DT Akeem Spence? At the combine, Spence confirmed he did a whopping 37 bench press reps of 225 pounds at the combine: “Yeah, that’s accurate. But I should’ve hit 40.”
- Thursday’s Bucs-Ravens preseason opener is blacked out on local television. The only place to catch the live play-by-play is on 620 WDAE, 95.3FM & 103.5 FM, your home of the Bucs. Our-pre-game is at 5pm.
- The Bucs will hold their next public practice on Saturday morning from 8:45am-11:30am at One Buc Place. Parking and admission are free. Schedule is subject to change. For more information, check out 620wdae.com and buccaneers.com.
- For the latest news on Bucs training camp, keep it locked all day long on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs and the best Bucs coverage.